After the fifth steal, Cook put home an acrobatic layup to give No. 8 Duke the lead, spurring a 16-4 run en route to a 80-63 victory at Madison Square Garden.
Cook finished with eight steals, along with five assists and 14 points. Although not usually lauded for his defensive prowess, he also helped limit Adams, who entered play averaging 21.2 points per game, to a season-low 10 points.
“Man, that was crazy. He made so many big plays, especially in the beginning of the second half,” sophomore captain Rodney Hood said. “They were trying to run on us, they were throwing it out long, but he was playing [defensive back] back there.”
The person Cook wanted to thank for his defensive performance: the one player on Duke (9-2) whose defensive skills are most often questioned.
“Shout out to Andre Dawkins,” Cook said. “He helped me out with the defensive game plan coming in here—just watching film.”
Cook said he and Dawkins specifically watched film on NBA star Paul George and how he defended LeBron James. Cook, at six feet tall, even spent possessions defending Anderson, who often handles the ball for the Bruins (9-2) and stands 6-foot-9.
UCLA’s 63 points were a season low—and the first time it scored fewer than 70 points—as it entered play averaging 89.1 points per game, third most in the nation.
“There aren’t any shutouts,” head coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
On the offensive end, Jabari Parker paced the Blue Devils with 23 points on 7-for-13 shooting, including 4-for-8 from 3-point range. The Duke-favoring crowd was perhaps its loudest when Parker put home a slam during the 16-4 second-half run, which was set up by Cook’s sixth steal of the game.
Adding 10 rebounds and five assists, Parker recorded his third double-double of the season. He has scored at least 20 points in nine of the team’s 11 games.
Both teams fired from distance early and often, combining for 55 3-point attempts. Duke made only 11-of-32 tries from long range and during the first half took eight 3-pointers in a 10-shot stretch.
Though Duke led by as many as 10 points in the first half, the Bruins were able to take the lead and send it into halftime 37-37 because they hit 6-of-10 3-pointers in the period. In the second half, however, they made just 2-of-12 long-range tries, finishing with just 26 points in the final 20 minutes.
Rasheed Sulaimon, whose playing time has fluctuated recently and reached a nadir when he did not play against Michigan, hit Duke’s final 3-pointer of the game. With 2:00 left in the game, Cook fed Sulaimon and the sophomore shooting guard drained the bucket, prompting his teammates to crowd around him and celebrate when Krzyzewski took a time out.
The 3-pointer put Duke up by 11 and seemingly sealed the victory. Sulaimon was the first guard off the bench in the second half, a role that had been shared by Andre Dawkins and Matt Jones recently.
“We just had the feeling that somehow he was going to make a big play to close the game,” senior captain Tyler Thornton said. “We all knew it was going to happen, so we were just waiting for it to happen, and then he hit that shot.”